The FDA Is Warning Consumers About This Kind of Hand Sanitizer

The agency has been getting reports of sanitizer packaging that makes it look like food or drink.

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The coronavirus pandemic has made hand sanitizer an essential item. As usage and production have increased, health officials have doled out guidance on what products are unsafe to use, how to concoct a homemade sanitizer, and how long to spend rubbing it in. On Aug. 27, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued another warning to consumers about potentially dangerous purchases. The agency has received reports of hand sanitizers packaged to look like food or drink.

One consumer reported sanitizer packaged in what appeared to be a water bottle. An unnamed retailer told the FDA they encountered "a hand sanitizer product marketed with cartoons for children that was in a pouch that resembled a snack." The agency itself claims to have found hand sanitizer sold in "beer cans, children's food pouches, water bottles, juice bottles, and vodka bottles." Food flavorings had been added to some.

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Packaging a non-food product so that it can be confused with something edible is obviously extremely dangerous, especially for children who are easily lured by bright packaging. Ingesting hand sanitizer can lead to "cardiac effects, effects on the central nervous system, hospitalizations, and death," per the FDA. Even a small amount can be lethal to a child.

Hand sanitizer on the shelf in a store
Shutterstock

"I am increasingly concerned about hand sanitizer being packaged to appear to be consumable products, such as baby food or beverages," said FDA Commissioner Stephen Hahn, MD. "These products could confuse consumers into accidentally ingesting a potentially deadly product. It's dangerous to add scents with food flavors to hand sanitizers which children could think smells like food, eat and get alcohol poisoning."

The release does not indicate where the items were purchased or name any manufacturers involved. But, while the FDA investigates these products, they urge consumers to be extra cautious when making purchases. Avoid unfamiliar brands and read labels thoroughly, especially if you have children in your home.

For more advice on what to avoid, check out The CDC Just Issued This Deadly New Warning About Hand Sanitizer.

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Allie Hogan
Allie Hogan is a Brooklyn based writer currently working on her first novel. Read more
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